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[kuh-thee-druh l] /kəˈθi drəl/
the principal church of a diocese, containing the bishop's throne.
(in nonepiscopal denominations) any of various important churches.
pertaining to or containing a bishop's throne.
pertaining to or emanating from a chair of office or authority.
Origin of cathedral
1250-1300; Middle English < Late Latin cathedrālis (ecclesia) a cathedral (church). See cathedra, -al1
Related forms
cathedrallike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cathedral
  • The historical work in cathedral libraries etc is pretty scarce and much sought after.
  • Oceanfront cottages boast cathedral ceilings and picture windows.
  • Many local people were forced to give up their houses and the cathedral became a mosque.
  • The narrow, cobbled street leading to the cathedral is lined with bakeries, boutiques and chocolate shops.
  • One remarked that he wanted to climb the steps of a local cathedral, which he did the next day.
  • The president has promised the patriarch that the cathedral will be rebuilt: walls, dome and all.
  • The cathedral is famous for its ornately carved columns.
  • The interior of the cathedral is open to the public and is worth a visit if you don't want to continue your walk to the zoo.
  • Properly insulating your cathedral ceilings will help reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.
British Dictionary definitions for cathedral


  1. the principal church of a diocese, containing the bishop's official throne
  2. (as modifier): a cathedral city, cathedral clergy
Word Origin
C13: from Late Latin (ecclesia) cathedrālis cathedral (church), from cathedra bishop's throne, from Greek kathedra seat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cathedral

1580s, "church of a bishop," from phrase cathedral church (c.1300), partially translating Late Latin ecclesia cathedralis "church of a bishop's seat," from Latin cathedra "an easy chair (principally used by ladies)," also metonymically, e.g. cathedrae molles "luxurious women;" also "a professor's chair;" from Greek kathedra "seat, bench," from kata "down" (see cata-) + hedra "seat, base, chair, face of a geometric solid," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit" (see sedentary).

It was born an adjective, and attempts to cobble further adjectivization onto it in 17c. yielded cathedraical (1670s), cathedratic (1660s), cathedratical (1660s), after which the effort seems to have been given up.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cathedral in Culture

cathedral definition

A Christian church building in which a bishop has his official seat (cathedra is Latin for “chair”). A cathedral is usually large and imposing, and many cathedrals are important in the history of architecture. (See Chartres, Notre Dame de Paris, and Saint Paul's Cathedral.)

cathedral definition

A church building in which a Christian bishop has his official seat; cathedra is Latin for “chair.” Cathedrals are usually large and imposing, and many have been important in the development of architecture. The building of a cathedral, especially in the Middle Ages, was a project in which the entire town took part. (See Chartres; Notre Dame de Paris; and Saint Paul's Cathedral.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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